When my mother passed her wishes were to be cremated. I never did get a chance to talk to her about when and why she changed her mind. The day after her shiva was over and we took our walk around the block, one of my sisters suggested we visit the cemeteries of both sets of grandparents located in Brooklyn. This was a harder task than anyone imagined. Where were the cemeteries? When was the last time anyone in the family had been there? What were the plot numbers and did we really want to do this on the coldest day of the year? With a bottle of whiskey and some hard boiled eggs we bundled up and piled in the car. The first cemetery was well maintained and my father's parents had a dual stone. Her side of the stone was filled in fifteen years after his. My dad toasted his parents with the whiskey, ate his egg, sang a sefardic song and we said Kaddish. The cold quickly pushed us back in the car and with the help of mapquest, we made it to the my mother's parents cemetery in ten minutes. After we got directions to the plots, and drove around searching for the numbers to make sense, we gave up and parked. After what seemed like an eternity, I saw a sign containing the numbers where the plots should have been and so I called for my sisters. So many of the foot stones were covered in dirt. They were sunken and the grass had grown over parts of them. I knelled down with my bottle of water and started to rub and loosen the dirt with my scarf. My hand was frozen but I didn't care. There she was and there he was right next door. I looked up and saw my dad shaking his head. "I'm glad your mother isn't here to see this. She never did come here, I guess she was happy with her memories."
Friday, December 5, 2008
We Remember Them
When my Grandmother passed away about twenty years ago I remember my mother telling me that she didn't understand cremation. "You need a place for your children to visit, a place where they can come and talk to you." I was pregnant at the time and thought that her words made sense. She had lost her mother and if she found comfort in visiting her grave, I was happy for her.